Thursday, March 16, 2006

First draft of WIPO A2K Treaty available

I missed it when Cory reported last week that the first draft of the WIPO Access to Knowledge Treaty is live.

"Last fall, we kicked ass at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN agency that is supposed to be a humanitarian body but really spends all of its time ratcheting up the exclusive rights of big patent, copyright and trademark holders. We went to WIPO and drafted the "Geneva Declaration," laying out the case for a WIPO that lived up to its humanitarian mission by promoting international development and creativity. The Declaration begat the Development Agenda proposal, which the delegations of India, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and others took to the main session of WIPO, calling on it to reform itself. WIPO passed the Development Agenda, and now we're holding them to their promise.

Last winter, a group of activists, scholars, reps of commercial and standards bodies and practicioners of development gathered in Geneva to begin drafting a new treaty on Access to Knowledge (A2K), inviting all who couldn't be there in person to follow along on a public mailing list. Those two days were among the most exhilarating in my life: we began the process of drafting a treaty that will guarantee rights of archivists, educators and those who provide access to disabled people.

A2K is bearing fruit: the first draft of the treaty has just been published preparatory to a drafting summit in London this Thursday and Friday. I'm reading through it now and boy it's good stuff -- just check out some of the provisions on DRM:

legal prohibitions against anti-circumvention of DRM/TPM measures shall be limited, and not be enforced in the following cases:

i. When DRM/TPM licensing terms preclude implementation in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS),

ii. When DRM/TPM systems are marketed without adequate disclosure of their restriction modes and the terms under which they can be invoked, or when terms can be modified without a user's explicit consent,

iii. When DRM/TPM systems do not provide mechanisms to permit works to be accessible by persons with visually impairments or other disabilities,

iv. When DRM systems rely upon social entities that such as households and families in their technology more narrowly or restrictively than have been defined in local law,

272K PDF Link"

It would be almost impossible to overstate the importance of this, should James Love, Cory and co. manage to get an effective treaty of this type through WIPO. Next month there is an A2K conference over 3 days at Yale University.

"In the digital era, most multinational corporations and policymakers are of the view that the current trend characterised by increasing intellectual property rights and corporate control over knowledge best serve society's interests. At the same time, however, a growing number of commentators believe that widespread access to knowledge (A2K) and the preservation of a healthy knowledge commons are the real basis for sustainable human development. Nonetheless, intellectual property-based approaches continue to singlehandedly dictate global legal norms and shape national legal infrastructures.

The first goal of the Yale A2K Initiative is to come up with a new analytic framework for analysing the possibly distortive effects of public policies relying exclusively on intellectual property rights. Beyond this aim, the A2K initiative seeks to support the adoption and development of alternative ways to foster greater access to knowledge in the digitally connected environment.

The landmark A2K conference at Yale Law School will bring together leading thinkers and activists on access to knowledge policy from North and South, in order to generate concrete research agendas and policy solutions for the next decade. This conference will be among the first to synthesize the multifaceted and interdisciplinary aspects of access to knowledge, ranging from textbooks and telecommunications access to software and medicines. The A2K Conference aims to help build an intellectual framework that will protect access to knowledge both as the basis for sustainable human development and to safeguard human rights."

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